Sacramento Preparing For Riots When Cops Who Shot Stephon Clark Aren't Charged
Sacramento, CA – The City of Sacramento is bracing itself for "violent protests" when the Sacramento County district attorney and the California attorney general release their independent reports on the Stephon Clark shooting.
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are expected to release their findings before the March 18 first anniversary of the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Their reports will determine the criminal liability of the two officers who opened fire on Clark after he took a shooting stance with them.
Clark subsequently was shot at least seven times, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Community activists have said they do not expect Schubert to return a verdict they support.
“[Schubert] is most likely going to do what she does every time and not charge them,” Adrianne Pennington, a member of Black Lives Matter, told the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not anticipating that she will be in the people’s favor. It would be great, but I’m not expecting it.”
Schubert has never prosecuted an officer-involved shooting, and protesters have showed up at her office 49 weeks in a row to complain.
Despite the complaints from activists, the district attorney was reelected last year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Blue Lives Matter Editor-in-Chief Christopher Berg said that the shooting was so clearly justified, there would be no ethical way a prosecutor could charge the officers.
The incident that led to Clark’s death began when officers responded to a 911 call about someone breaking into cars at about 9:18 pm. on March 18, 2018.
Upon arrival, they found at least three cars that had been broken into, and were then notified that the police helicopter had spotted someone in the backyard of a residence.
The suspect, later identified as Clark, appeared to be using a “tool bar” to break out the rear sliding glass door of the occupied home, deputies said. Investigators later found a cinder block and a strip of aluminum lying near the broken glass.
Officers on the ground spotted Clark, 22, as he moved along the side of his grandparents’ home, and “gave the suspect commands to stop and show his hands,” police said, according to The Sacramento Bee. “[He] immediately fled from the officers and ran towards the back of the home.”
The officers pursued Clark, who then turned in a shooting stance with an object extended towards police.
In the first video of the incident that was released, you could hear an officer yell, "Gun, gun, gun" as Clark took the shooting stance.
"He looked back at our officers and faced them,” Sacramento Police Department (SPD) Sergeant Vance Chandler said. “[He] had something, an object in his hand, and pointed it at our officers, and at that time our officers believed it was a firearm, and out of fear for their own lives they fired their service weapons."
The object was later identified as a cell phone.
Police have released 911 call recordings from the Clark’s grandfather and his grandparents’ next door neighbor that evening that showed his grandfather had asked the police for assistance.
In the recording, a man believed to be Clark's grandfather, Tommy Thompson, told the dispatcher that someone was in his backyard "beating on my window and I don't know what's going on," KCRA reported.
The grandfather, who had lost both of his legs to complications with diabetes, told 911 that he couldn’t get out of bed to see who was beating on his window.
Police advised the man to stay inside until he was contacted by police, KCRA reported.
Family members later said relatives regularly knocked on the rear window so Thompson could use a remote garage door opener to let them into the house, but his reaction and recorded 911 call the night of the shooting indicated otherwise.
Authorities have confirmed that the 911 call did, in fact, come from inside Clark’s grandparents’ home.
Police also released a recording of a 911 call received from Thompson’s next door neighbor reporting someone trying to break into his home, received just before the call from Clark's grandfather.
The Los Angeles Times hired a use-of-force expert to review the footage, and he said their cautious approach after the shooting was not unusual.
"One officer says he cannot see the young man's left hand on the ground," Ed Obayashi, a Plumas County sheriff's deputy and shooting expert, explained.
Obayashi said the officers thought Clark was playing possum, and may have been concerned about additional suspects in the area.
In the wake of the incident, Black Lives Matter protesters shut down city streets and highways, and prevented sports fans from getting to games in the Sacramento arena.
Black Lives Matter protesters even showed up to harass one of the police officers involved in the Clark shooting as he ate lunch with his groomsmen on his wedding day.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn asked the notoriously liberal state attorney general to conduct an independent review of the shooting to “help build faith and confidence” in the investigation not long after it happened, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Activists were initially thrilled that Becerra was getting involved, but have since changed their minds because he has refused to release law enforcement records related to the case under a new state transparency law.
Senate Bill 1421 was passed into law after the Clark shooting and requires the release of investigative and personnel records in officer-involved shootings and some instances of substantiated misconduct, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Becerra has said he is waiting for a ruling from the courts on whether the new transparency law can be applied retroactively.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg recently gave his State of the City address and apologized to the Clark family, according to KOVR.
“I think that the mayor delivering the State of the City at the Pannell Center in South Sacramento was more than symbolic, it was substantively important,” Law Enforcement Accountability Directive Founder Mark Harris said. “It was the mayor shining the light of the city on South Sacramento, within blocks of where Stephon Clark was murdered.”
Steinberg has also dedicated $200 million for job programs and housing in low-income areas, including South Sacramento, KOVR reported.
Harris said that mayor’s efforts may help to diffuse violent protests if no charges are brought against the officers who shot Clark.
However, Black Lives Matter Sacramento Founder Tanya Faison disagreed with his assessment.
“They are spending a lot of money and putting in a lot of time when all that they had to do was make sure these officers are fired,” Faison said in a statement, according to KOVR.